Any business, large or small, that heavily relies on making a profit from their online presence, thinks about protecting its online brand and business. If you are one such business, would you not purchase every top-level domain to achieve such a goal?
Brute-forcing a brand domain name protection
Ongoing introduction of new generic top-level domains, with currently around a thousand top-level domains available, would make such endeavor very expensive if you would buy just one with every single TLD.
Some ccTLD or ngTLD renewal prices are indeed expensive or may require complex paperwork processing. Arguably, you may find companies that offer such specific service which you could outsource and let them handle the complicated process, and that would only increase overall cost.
If you would really try to perfect your brand protection, you would additionally register domain names with common typing errors, your product and service names … etc. In fact, some very large brand companies will go to great lengths following exactly these guidelines and registering all possible domain names related to their brands. These are billion-dollar companies, able to do this because of their enormous marketing and branding budget.
Small and medium business online presence protection
Small and medium business cannot afford large-scale online brand protection through the purchase of several hundred domain names. This means they must focus on a smaller number of well-thought domain names.
Truth is if you own your domain name with .COM extension, you already have won half the battle. That is because people often type “your domain name”.COM when they forget what was the domain extension in the first place. Additionally, when searching, common people may type in the .COM domain extension in the search query besides the domain name, because it is the most recognizable TLD.
Choosing which domain names to purchase for the purpose of brand protection
Besides .COM, you may want some but not all of the “original” TLD, depending on your website type. For example, if your website is an online community you may want .NET, and only if your website is a presentation for a non-profit organization then you may want the same .ORG domain name.
For local business or companies targeting specific regional or language speaking audience, purchasing a number of country code domain names is a must. Besides passive brand protection just by owning these ccTLD domains, they can be used in an active form. ccTLDs are favored in a local search, and with a proper 301 redirect to your main website they can be used to drive additional organic traffic, a pure win-win situation.
Keep in mind that, due to .COM namespace shortage, some ccTLD are recognized for their general use, and internationally accepted in certain business or industry as the go-to domain names. For example, the ccTLD .IO is the most popular choice for tech startups. On the other hand companies in the business of deep learning, machine learning, and artificial intelligence must own domains with .AI to protect their business.
Finally, registering a brand name in every single new gTLD is not recommended as it would be a huge expense. Some ngTLD where spam-related. Because of their initial very cheap 1st-year domain registration they were a target for short-term spam and scam websites, and they may induce negative SEO for your website with a redirect. Choose only a small number of these ngTLDs that are trending in your particular business or industry niche.
Trademark your brand domain name
One way to make sure you will not lose ownership of these important domain names is to make them into trademarks. Trademark infringement is a serious legal issue, especially in western countries, and many registrar companies will not hesitate to transfer domain ownership to trademark owner upon receiving a trademark infringement notice, even without a court order. This is because companies try to avoid the cost of lawyers and going to court.
Note that if someone owns a domain name with your trademark, but his ownership dates years back before you registered the domain name, then you will have no legal right to ask for domain ownership transfer. The best thing you can do in this case is to make a reasonable offer and try to negotiate a purchase.
While the sheer number of available TLD is growing, most likely you do not have to own every single domain name that may pose a threat to your online presence, but instead a small and well-curated portfolio of domain names, with or without a redirect to your main website. Make yourself aware of your visitor’s origin, albeit local, regional or global audience, and focus your brand protection toward them with your optimized online presence.